Cisco, Emulex, Qlogic, etc Announce 10 Gbps FCoE While Mellanox says “We raise 4x” and Announces 40 Gbps Infiniband; SNW Day 2 Recap

Day 2 of Storage Networking World at SNW is now in the books. Right now I’m frantically trying to keep up with the blogging updates between briefings, interviews and just generally shooting the breeze while roaming the hallways of the Rosen Creek Shingle hotel where the conference is being held. Here are the highlights from my rounds at day 2 at SNW.

Xiotech made the first “earthshaking” announcements of the day at 7:00 am which mostly had those I spoke to shaking their heads trying to figure out what the announcement meant. The announcement centered on their new patented Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) technology that they acquired from Seagate last November that will, according to Xiotech, “virtually eliminate the need for service, scale from one terabyte to one petabyte and dramatically boost performance”.

Exactly how ISEs do this on Xiotech’s Emprise storage systems is unclear to me at this point. Their press release is long on the business benefits but vague on how it works. An analyst report put out by ESG labs may shed some further light on how this technology works and what its value is to end users though I still need to read through it to determine to what extent they address it.

Next up was a briefing with Data Direct Networks’ Josh Goldstein. The most significant point of this conversation was the uptick Data Direct Networks has seen in the last two quarters in the number of its storage systems shipping with Infiniband. While Josh could not provide me with the exact numbers, he said that he had not closely examined the numbers for a couple of quarters and when he looked at them a couple of weeks ago, the numbers surprised even him.

A briefing with COPAN System’s CEO Mark Ward followed. It was good to hear COPAN Systems has finally gotten off of its “We have MAID” soap box and moved on to selling product, instead of telling everyone about the wonders of MAID. While it shared some new evidence that using MAID would extend the life of hard drives from 600,000 hours of MTBF (mean time between failure) to 4 million hours, it more importantly has increased its employee count from 60 to 180 and is growing sales correspondingly.

Early in the afternoon Cisco, Emulex, Qlogic and everyone else’s brother was supposed to be the 2nd “earthshaking” announcement of the day. Together they announced a new category of Converged Networks Adapter (CNA) cards that enable both storage and network traffic to be combined into a single unifed fabric. To do this, they are using the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol that converges Ethernet-based LAN and Fibre Channel-based SAN connectivity to a 10 Gb/s Enhanced Ethernet network.

Usually I am big fan of the “Ethernet for Everything” principal but not in this particular case. Despite their combined marketing muscle, their predominant presence in data centers and the ubiquitous nature of Ethernet, they are going to miss the mark short term.

I say this because Mellanox Technologies (who also announced a FCoE CNA w/Host Offload on Monday) had on April 1, 2008, announced a 40 Gb/s Infiniband card. Though this announcement definitely lacked the fanfare surrounding the FCoE announcement, 40 Gb/s beats 10 Gb/s according to my numbers. Equally importantly, there are emerging switch technologies from companies like Xsigo Systems that capitalize on the virtualization I/O benefits that Infiniband provides, Infiniband’s roadmap is much more robust that Ethernet and its price point is the same or less than than these new FCoE. While Mellanox’s VP of Product Marketing, Thad Omura, told me that FCoE really won’t gain much traction until 2009, I see that as a best case scenario.

My final briefing was with Bocada’s Nancy Hurley who provided me some insight into how
Bocada is adapting to the recent changes in market conditions for the data protection and recovery management (DPRM) market. Bocada Enterprise is finding itself engaged in new battles with EMC and Symantec at the enterprise level with backup reporting. Hurley says Bocada is often winning in head-to-head bake-offs but when pricing is introduced, EMC and Symantec are including or packaging their data protection management software for “free” as part of larger backup software or storage deals.

To address this, Bocada is starting to switch gears and position Bocada Enterprise as a Unified Management Platform. It is capitalizing on the agentless architecture and analytics already found in Bocada Enterprise and adding new features to specifically manage Microsoft Data Protection Manager (DPM). To introduce this functionality, Bocada has signed a 6,000 seat agreement with Microsoft where it will test drive this new functionality.

Look for my day 3 SNW thought and comments by mid-day tomorrow.

Please email Jerome Wendt directly at blog.master(at) with comments and corrections.

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